Sunday, December 30, 2007
on my yoga mat, in front of my altar,
doing a combination of asanas, back exercises, calisthenics
and wrestling with Bennie.
On the radio, Christa Tippett was speaking with Dr. Rachael Naomi Remen, in a program entitled Listening Generously.
DR. REMEN: [My grandfather] was a flaming mystic, and he was also a magnificent storyteller.
MS. TIPPETT: What do you mean when you say he was a flaming mystic?
DR. REMEN: …it means many different things. It can mean a scholarly thing, like the study of a school of mysticism like Kabbalah, but it's also a way of seeing the world.
My grandfather felt that the world was in constant communication with him,
that there was a spirit in the world,
a God in the world that could be spoken to and could respond at all times,
that there was a presence in the world that was holy and sacred and that he was in constant dialogue with this as he went through the events of his day.
I think mysticism can be defined in many different ways.
I didn't know that my grandfather was a mystic.
… I just knew that the world that he lived in was the world I wanted to live in, too.
MS. TIPPETT: You recount this idea of the Kabbalah,… that at the beginning of the creation, the holy was broken up…
DR. REMEN: …this was my fourth birthday present, this story.
In the beginning there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. And then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light.
And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke.
And the wholeness of the world, the light of the world was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light, and they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.
Now, according to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world.
It's a very important story for our times.
And this task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew.
It's the restoration of the world.
…And this is, of course, a collective task.
It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently alive, all people yet to be born.
We are all healers of the world.
And that story opens a sense of possibility.
It's not about healing the world by making a huge difference.
It's about healing the world that touches you, that's around you….
It's a very old story, comes from the 14th century, and it's a different way of looking at our power… I'm not a person who is a political person in the usual sense of that word,
but I think that we all feel that we're not enough to make a difference,
that we need to be more somehow,
either wealthier or more educated or somehow or other different than the people we are.
And according to this story, we are exactly what's needed.
And to just wonder about that a little,
what if we were exactly what's needed?
How would I live if I was exactly what's needed to heal the world?